The governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, announced this Monday the decentralization of the local Department of Education, the target of frequent criticism, in order to guarantee that schools respond directly to the needs of students.
“The goal is to make this decentralization of the educational system viable so that all our studentsas well as their fathers and mothers, and their teachers, can have confidence in their future and that of the next generations,” Pierluisi said in a press release.
Today’s announcement, in which the head of federal Education, Miguel Cardona, participated, means that Puerto Rico will launch the Initiative for Educational Decentralization and Regional Autonomy (IDEAR).
“The important actions we are announcing today will lead to a better tomorrow for the students and families of Puerto Rico,” Cardona said.
Puerto Rico is the sixth largest school district in the US. and currently operates as a unitary education system, which occurs in few other jurisdictions.
Criticism of the local Department of Education has been common in recent years due to the complicated internal bureaucracy, which has fueled allegations of inefficiency and even corruption.
Under this new model, Puerto Rico will establish a structure that separates the functions of the State Education Agency (SEA) and the Local Education Agency (LEA).
IDEAR, in turn, will deliver a plan to the Secretary of Education and the Governor of Puerto Rico within 90 days detailing short- and long-term goals toward decentralization.
The plan will be developed through a collaborative process involving students, teachers, and the broader community to ensure efforts are participatory, teacher-responsive, and student-centered.
Once implemented, decentralization will facilitate rapid deployment and effective use of federal resources and will allow greater autonomy for regions and schools.
Pierluisi also announced the launch of the P-Card initiative, under which each school director will have a debit card to directly purchase the day-to-day materials that are needed, but subject to certain caps per month.
In the same way, he assured that all schools will receive an enlarged basic basket of educational materials before the beginning of the school semester.